Saturday, November 12, 2011

Happy Birthday: Lucia Popp

"Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen"
BWV 51 (J.S. Bach)
Born as Lucia Poppová in Uhorška Veš (now Záhorská Ves), Slovakia (formerly Czechoslovakia) on November 12, 1939 to a father who was an engineer. The late soprano known by the world as Lucia Popp began her career as a soubrette soprano, and later moved into the light-lyric and lyric coloratura soprano repertoire and then the lighter Richard Strauss and Wagner operas. after finishing school, studied medicine for two semesters. She began her career by training as an actress. Anna Hrusovska-Prosenkova, a voice teacher at the Academy, happened to hear her singing during a performance of Molière's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, and offered her voice lessons. Only then did she begin studying music and singing at the Conservatories of Brünn and Prague. She attended the Bratislava Music Academy for four years, completing course in general music and voice studies. She began her studies as a mezzo-

"Chi cede al furore"
Serse (Händel)
soprano, but her voice quite suddenly developed a high upper register. She made her stage debut as a singer at age 23 at the Bratislava Opera singing Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. In 1963 Herbert von Karajan heard her sing and engaged her on the spot to sing with the Vienna State Opera company. Her first appearances were so successful that before long she was offered a three-year contract with the Vienna State Opera. She started her engagement there in 1963, and became famous overnight singing the Queen of the Night, a role in which she was considered unsurpassed. In 1963 she sang also Barbarina in Le nozze di Figaro at the same opera house. It was in Die Zauberflöte with which she made her debut, also in 1963, at the Salzburg Festival, and was also recommended to conductor Otto Klemperer by English record producer Walter Legge, a recording she made in 1964.

"Laudate Dominum"
Vesperae de Dominica (Mozart)
Lucia Popp made her debut at Covent Garden Opera in London in 1966 as Oscar in Un ballo in maschera, and she has since performed there regularly. She sang the Metropolitan Opera in New York for the first time in February 1967, in Marc Chagall's production of Die Zauberflöte. At the MET, she only sang 26 performances of three roles (Queen of the Night and Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier) in three seasons (1966-1967, 1969-1970, 1980-1981). During the 1970s, Popp turned from coloratura roles to lyric ones. The audience at La Scala in Milan discovered her in 1976 in the role of Sophie in Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier, conducted by Carlos Kleiber. Then, in the 1980s, she added heavier roles to her repertoire, such as Elsa in Wagner's Lohengrin and Eva in the same composer's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. As a result of this vocal progression, Popp sang various roles in the same opera at different stages in her career, including Zdenka

"Der hölle rache"
Die Zauberflöte (Mozart)
and Arabella in Richard Strauss's Arabella; Susanna and the Countess in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro; Queen of the Night and Pamina in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte; Zerlina, Donna Elvira, and later Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni; Adele and Rosalinde in Johann Strauss II's Die Fledermaus; Annchen and Agathe in Weber's Der Freischütz; and Sophie and the Marschallin in Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier. In 1983 she performed for the first time the title role in Arabella under the baton of Wolfgang Sawallisch. She created a sensation in her first appearance as the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier in 1985, and then had a triumphant success in the role of the Countess in Capriccio for Salzburg in 1987. She was also a notable singer of Janácek. She began getting large contracts for lucrative guest performances at smaller theatres, where she could rehearse new roles in new productions. She has worked with such famous conductors as Leonard Bernstein, Lorin Maazel, Neville Marriner, Charles

"Quel guardo il cavaliere"
Don Pasquale (Donizetti)
Mackerras, Rafael Kubelik, Bernard Haitink and Georg Solti. She participated in concert productions in Austria, Germany and England. Lucia Popp has widened her repertoire by her experience in recordings (with such eminent conductors as Georg Solti, Raphael Frübeck de Burgos, Otto Klemperer, István Kertéz, John Pritchard and Joseph Krips), and through television. Many of her recordings have received international awards. The Vienna Philharmonic awarded her the "Silver Rose," an honour of which she was particularly proud. Lucia Popp also had a successful concert and recital career. The lied occupies a special place in her repertoire. She has given recitals in America, Australia, Israel, South Africa, Great Britain, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and Germany. After a London Schubert recital the Daily Telegraph remarked: "...with her natural charm, she imbued the songs, which were mainly unfamiliar, with a degree of perfection

"Měsíčku Na Nebi Hlubokém"
Rusalka (Dvořák)
that had only been realised until now by the great performers of the past." In January 1979 Lucia Popp received the title of Kammersängerin in Vienna, and in 1983 she received the title of Bayerische Kammersängerin from the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. She was married three times: conductor Georg Fischer, director of English National Opera Peter Jonas, and finally in 1986 to tenor Peter Seiffert who was 15 years her junior. Lucia Popp died of brain cancer on November 16, 1993 in Munich, Germany, at the age of 54. She was buried in Cintorín Slávičie údolie, Bratislava. Her second husband, noted German tenor, Peter Seiffert, survives her. In March 2007, on BBC Music

"Tu Qui! Perche? Che Vuoi?"
La Bohème (Leoncavallo)
magazine's list of the "20 All-time Best Sopranos" based on a poll of 21 British music critics and BBC presenters, Lucia Popp placed seventh. She rarely recorded roles she did not perform on stage (with a few exceptions, including Elisabeth in Wagner's Tannhäuser and the title role in Richard Strauss's Daphne). She can be seen in the role of Pamina in a performance of Die Zauberflöte, recorded live at the Bayerische Staatsoper in 1983, and published by Philips, catalogue number 070 505-3. Also, in Smetana's The Bartered Bride as Marie (the female lead). In Franz Lehar's The Merry Widow recorded in 1982 in Vienna, published by Deutsche Grammophon Catalogue number 00440 073 4360, and in Die Fledermaus as Rosalinda (TDK). Also in Orff's Carmina Burana as the female soloist, recorded in 1975, published by BMG Ariola catalogue number 74321 85285 9. Also as Marzelline in 1968 Fidelio with the Hamburg State Opera. It's well known that flashy, high, bright-timbered voices usually have trouble developing a warm tonal colour. But Lucia Popp was able to warm up her tone, which, with its

"Zueignung" (R. Strauss)
sweet, meditative piano, English critic John Steane (in his book The Grand Tradition - Seventy Years of Singing on Record) compared to an oboe. Thus, from the Queen of the Night - probably the best exponent of the role on record (according to Steane) - Lucia Popp became a lyric singer with a dazzling technique, and further enriched the aural and colour possibilities of her voice by singing Lieder. [Source, Source, Source]

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